042: Aaron Ross (again) on going From Impossible to Inevitable in Sales

Aaron Ross

Aaron Ross returns to Sales for Nerds after coming on in Episode 20. If you haven’t heard that, you might want to listen to that first (although you don’t have to). Aaron’s got 9 kids (and working on more– many of these are adopted, just FYI), so he’s a busy guy.

He started a company that failed because he didn’t know sales well enough, so he joined Salesforce to learn about sales.

He’s written 2 hugely influential books–

In this episode, Aaron talks about some of the most critical topics in the book (but you should really just read it).

Nail Your Niche

The biggest challenge people have getting a company off the ground is “nailing the niche”. If you don’t do this, you can waste a ton of money, time, and energy on sales and marketing efforts that don’t work. (If you need some help with your niche, see this Mad Libs Positioning Generator tool, and check out the one question you should ask if you’re considering narrowing your or broadening your niche.) We all have fear of missing out (FOMO), but if we don’t focus, it’s very hard to get traction.

How do you know if you have a good niche? If you can describe what you do, whether an elevator pitch or on twitter, do people understand what you do, and do the right people ask for more.

A lot of updates to the second edition involve the deluge of information. Aaron notes that buyers don’t necessarily know more than ever, they’re often more confused than ever.

If you’re in services, it’s easy to say that almost anyone could be in your market, so focus on the use cases where you add the most value.

The Current Information Environment

How do you deal with massive surge of content– you can’t just write a great blog post and get on the front page of Google. You have to create a signature piece of cornerstone content. What’s the one thing you want your company to be known for?

How Do You Grow the Value of Your Company

Another interesting case study from the book is how Bregal Sagemount — a private equity firm– triples the value of a company in 3 years. They mostly focus on growing sales faster– because that grows the value of the company most effectively. They invest in getting more leads, run better meetings, leading to more deals. (Sounds familiar, right?)

Unifying Sales and Marketing, while Specializing Roles

They try to get specialized roles for sales, especially better outbound prospecting, but they also get sales and marketing together as a “revenue team”. One of the best practices is to put marketing on a quota for sales-qualified leads or revenue, if the sales cycle is short enough (a quarter or less). So if you want to increase the value of your company, increasing sales growth and predictability is likely the way to go.

How do you define a qualified lead? This will vary from company to company and even by channel (an inbound lead is usually more qualified than an outbound lead, for example). A starting point for a qualified lead might be:

  • Do they have authority
  • Do they have a need
  • Do they want a next step

Note that in industry, a person with enough authority can make budget and timing happen.

Inbound and Outbound (Nets and Spears)

Inbound is great, outbound is great. And they go great together. Outbound lets you access parts of the market that don’t know you exist, and you can define your targets. If you’re going to do outbound, make sure one person owns the initiative. At least one person should be doing this full time for a few months. One example is Zuora, which had reps doing 30 calls and 60 emails per day. The better you know your customer, the better you’ve nailed your niche, the easier this outbound prospecting gets.

If you don’t know who to call, but you know which companies, you can call the company and ask nicely.

When someone asks what you do, pretend they asked you “how do you help your customers?” Use the first 3 seconds of the conversations to earn the next 60 seconds.

By all means, check out the book… (see links below)

Home

The Wine (and the Beer)

Aaron is enjoying some Stella Artois (“when I was in Belgium, this was the stuff they serve to tourists, but it’s tasty.”)

I enjoyed some Loveblock (that does not sound right, does it?) Sauvignon Blank from New Zealand (taste much better than the name). 😉

Where to find Aaron…

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients and would love some help getting more, but hate “selling”). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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038: Liston Witherill on growing your consulting practice beyond referrals

Liston got his start in environmental engineering, and picked up a lot of sales and marketing expertise along the way. He started freelancing as a digital marketer (“I knew enough to be dangerous”) and started an agency.

However, as marketing scales, it becomes less about individual people and more about numbers. He missed the one-on-one interaction, so he started his current venture, to help consultants scale their practices, making him a great fit for Sales for Nerds, since that’s really the whole mission of the podcast.

In this episode, learn:

  • About Liston’s life work: understanding how people make decisions and why.
  • The three types of consulting founders (and why all of them rely on sales to make money).
  • Which is why you need to invest in sales and marketing the same way you invest in your craft.
  • How you can be more proactive in generating referrals and word-of-mouth type sales, instead of waiting passively for that business to come to you.
  • How to use inbound and outbound strategies together, and why they are both important.
  • To quote @garyvee, “Businesses won’t survive unless they’re media companies.” (Or, as I wrote a couple years ago, every company is a media company.)
  • How to deal with your fear of entering the media world.
  • The one critical thing you need more of to get more clients.
  • Liston’s simple, attainable, really strong outbound sales strategy that you can start doing right now.
  • How to handle inbound inquiries better.
  • Much, much more…


The Wine Whisky

Liston brings some Kentucky bourbon– Ri(1) (pronounced Rye-one).

I was all out of Lagavulin, perhaps my favorite Scotch, but I did have some Lagavulin Distiller’s Edition laying around, which brings a bit more sherry flavor to the peaty intensity of Lagavulin. I think this is probably the most expensive bottle I’ve featured on the podcast, although on a per-serving basis, whisky is a pretty good value. 😉

And, if you’re in Portland and like whisk{e}y, Liston recommends the Multnomah Whisk{e}y Library, where just the Scotch section of the menu runs 20 pages.


Where to find Liston:

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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037: Rick Middlemass on Sales Psychology

Rick Middlemass

Rick is the VP of Sales and Marketing for National Association of Sales Professionals, so he’s like an uber meta-sales person, but that’s not how he started. He got a summer internship knocking on doors for a painting company. Learn about his journey, and hear Rick’s insights on sales psychology, including:

  • Why you’re a sales professional if you’re a business owner.
  • What he learned his first day doing door-to-door sales as an introvert, and how you can use it when dealing with your own inner psychology.
  • How Rick became the #1 sales rep for a Cisco integrator, outselling many people who had been there long before him.
  • How much time to give yourself to do research before a call.
  • How information gets conveyed (55% body language, 38% tone, 7% words). This is why talking on the phone loses so much information.
  • (Check out the show Lie to Me for more on how body language reveals a lot about us.)
  • The importance of finding mentors, and why it’s not as hard as you think.
  • Pre-framing (don’t just punt it to the prospect), re-framing (getting back on track), and de-framing (backing out gracefully if there isn’t a fit) are 3 great skills to learn.
  • Learn to ask questions gently, but persistently.
  • Sales is not about directing, it’s about aligning and redirecting. (Don’t attack someone, they will put up a wall.)
  • The one thing Rick would like people to fix: don’t focus on yourself.


The Wine

Rick brings some innovation to Sales for Nerds by having champagne.

I make a move to Burgundy with Chateau de Santenay Bourgogne Pinot Noir, which is definitely more earthy than the California Pinot I often drink, but still accessible and it doesn’t have the deep earth flavors some people don’t enjoy.

Where to find Rick:


listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.

If you’ve ever struggled with a proposal, check out the “official” Sales for Nerds online course on Sales Proposals the Right Way (coupon link for listeners).


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036: Craig Elias on Trigger Event Selling and More

Craig Elias

Craig started as a computer science major and ended up one of the top sales people in Canada, with a best-selling sales book to his name.

How did this happen? And what can you learn from this for your business (and your life)?

In this episode, learn:

  • What’s considered a mild winter in Calgary.
  • How he jump started his sales career, even though he didn’t seem qualified on paper. (And how he reflected on this later and the realization it led to.)
  • Craig’s primary sales philosophy: How do I become the first person people call when they have a problem?
  • Where to look for great sales reps.
  • Why he had a lot of price objections when he started, and what he did about it.
  • What he did after he joined WorldCom just as 9/11 was happening, and then, after he became their top sales rep, what happened when everyone realized the execs had committed accounting fraud. It was the first time no one would buy from him.
  • Craig’s 3 big epiphanies about sales:
    • The Window of Disatisfaction
    • Trigger Events (and typical examples)
    • Analyzing wins (and why it’s more important than the typical sales advice of “even if you lose the deal, don’t lose the lesson”)
  • Why you need to use verbs instead of nouns (with some great examples from trucking companies to marriages), and what you want to hear as a response.
  • Why you want to ask “how?” and “what?” rather than “why?” questions (speaking of advice that can also apply to marriages).
  • Why Craig ended up living on Yerba Buena Island in the middle of San Francisco Bay (I always wondered who actually lived there whenever I drove over the Bay Bridge).
  • And much, much more. Even though I had read Craig’s book, I learned a ton, and I think you will, too.

The Wine

After my forced experiment with rosé in the last episode, I’m back to reds with Parducci True Grit Reserve Petite Syrah 2014 from California, while Craig enjoyed some Tom Gore 2016 Cab, his favorite California Cabernet Sauvignon.

Where to find Craig:

Craig’s Book:

Shift! Harness the Trigger Events that Turn Prospects into Customers

Other books mentioned in the episode:

Consultative Selling, by Mack Hanan.

Spin Selling, by Neil Rackham. Craig says that chapter 4 in particular is the best 30 pages written about sales.

And, my weakness in Russian literature is obvious. The quote about happy families is not from Dostoyevsky. It’s Tolstoy– in fact it’s the beginning of Anna Karenina:

“Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on Android, or Player.fm.


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035: Joy Beatty on Engineering the Sales Process

JoyBeattyJoy Beatty insists she is not a VP of Sales. Or Marketing. Even though she runs both teams for Seilevel, a requirements consulting firm that helps companies complete big software project successfully by actually having the right requirements in place. (For people who have never been involved in these big projects, this probably sounds crazy. For people who have, you know how important it is.)

How does she reconcile this: “I don’t see myself in sales. I see myself as a problem-solver.” One thing she can do is put a process in place. So that’s what she did, to great success. Learn how she did that, and how you can do the same thing, without being a world class sales expert, including

  • How she never wanted to run sales, and thought it was a terrible idea.
  • How she applied Sandler concepts (including some learned from Adam Boyd from Episode 3), not only to sales, but also to consulting, including the use of upfront contracts and making it safe to say “no.” (“I don’t feel like I’m doing sales, and I guess that’s why it’s working.”)
  • Why they don’t use quotas.
  • How to get opportunities unstuck.
  • How they defined the sales process (and how you can do it quickly if you’re not sure where to start).
  • How to get people to change and use the new process.
  • How Joy applies requirements consulting techniques to simplify sales reporting.
  • How to keep yourself accountable if you’re doing sales in addition to your “day job.”
  • Joy shares a tip she learned from me (!) about picking up the phone.

Here’s an example of working on the sales process:

Working on the sales process

 

 

The Wine

Aime Roquesante Rose 2017

Joy brought some Aimé Roquesante rosé. I am trying to broaden my horizons, but I have to admit I’m having some trouble here. If you’re a rosé fan, don’t let me deter you.

Where to find Joy:

Books by Joy:


Visual Models for Software Requirements, with Anthony Chen

 

 

Software Requirements, 3rd Edition with Karl Wiegers (Microsoft Press, like Code Complete).

 

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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034: Terry Hansen on preventing objections in the sales cycle

Terry HansenTerry is the President of Hansen Group Company, a sales performance improvement firm, and the creator of Hansen University, an online training platform with over 60 hours of online courses for sales professionals and sales managers. For over a decade, Terry has helped enterprises, nonprofits and startups find more prospects, close more deals, and retain customers longer. Terry and his wife have 5 kids, so that might be an even more impressive insight into his organizational skills. 😉

Like most people on this podcast, Terry never thought he’d end up in sales, let alone a sales trainer. A gymnast in high school, Terry ended up working as a stunt performer at Disneyland.

He almost ran off to join the circus. Literally. But with a young family, he needed more reliable work, so he tried sales. And was terrible at it. It took him years to figure it out (although less time than me).

He realized that most of his peers in the sales group had a really polished pitch, so he created his own. Only to realize that the really successful sales reps were much more about listening than talking. Today’s buyers already have a lot of information– they don’t need a feature dump.

Terry also realized that it’s really hard to overcome objections (despite the extensive sales literature on this topic). It’s much better to prevent those objections earlier in the sales process.

Terry realized that while their are lots of possible objections, they basically boil down to 4 main issues:

  1. Motivation. How much pain or urgency is there?
  2. Budget and money.
  3. Authority to get the deal done.
  4. The product/service/solution itself.

The PIMAT Framework. Use Terry’s framework to remember what you need to have a qualified deal:

  • Problem.
  • Impact.
  • Money.
  • Authority.
  • Technical.

Forget about overcoming objections– prevent them, instead. Grab your free PIMAT scorecard from Terry.

 

 

The wine (and more)

Sinergia Cabernet Sauvignon 2014Reuben enjoyed a Los Frailes Sinergia Cabernet Sauvignon from 2014. It’s an organic wine, that started with a strong “this is an organic wine” taste (can someone tell me what that is?), but having a glass the day after I opened it, that taste was mostly gone, and what was left was a very smooth cab (I would have thought it was a different grape, if you’d asked me).

Terry doesn’t drink alcohol, so he had something much less healthy– the famous chocolate milk with potato flakes from Reed’s Dairy. It sounds like some kind of Idaho joke, and I’ve never had it, but those who have swear the use of the potato flakes improves the taste and texture over regular chocolate milk and people who have visited can develop cravings.
bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Terry:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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How to Nail Your Proposals (on the Predictable Revenue Podcast)

I had a lot of fun talking about proposals with Collin Stewart, co-CEO of Predictable Revenue (along with Aaron Ross, author of Predictable Revenue, who did an interview on Sales for Nerds earlier to talk about that and his new book From Impossible to Inevitable). Collin was a good sport about me beating up on his proposal (he had sent me an example before the interview, and I had taken out my proverbial red pen). I hope I was as good a sport about my poor outbound sales skills. 😉

Anyway, check it out.

Here are the show notes, including iTunes link, etc, on PredictableRevenue.com.

And here are the resources mentioned in the episode (including a discount on the    Sales for Nerds Proposal Online Course).

033: Vanessa Van Edwards on How to Captivate People

Vanessa Van Edwards Vanessa Van Edwards is lead investigator at the Science of People—a human behavior research lab. She is the national bestselling author of Captivate: The Science of Succeeding With People, which was chosen as one of Apple’s Most Anticipated Books of the year. Her work has been featured on CNN, NPR and Fast Company. She has written columns on the science of success for Entrepreneur Magazine and the Huffington Post. Vanessa started her study of people as a shy teenager, trying to figure out how people interacted. This turned into a lifelong pursuit. When I read her book, I wanted her to come on the show. Vanessa was kind enough to take time away from her 10 week old daughter to share her story and wisdom. There’s a lot of great stuff in here, including

  • When to practice your new tactics (and when not to).
  • One of the few things Reuben did right in college, and how you can apply this technique right now to help you.
  • Why we subconsciously use defensive body language in work settings, and what we can do about it (another great VVE technique).
  • Starting a conversation vs “sparking” a conversation.
  • Why everyone should do 6 months in sales of some kind.
  • Vanessa’s sales tip– don’t focus on sales, focus on stories.
  • Don’t hand out your props at the beginning of the meeting.
  • How to let other people impress you, instead of trying to impress them.
  • What to say, where to stand, and what to do at networking events.
  • How to share stories effectively, and how to know if your stories are too long.
  • How to ask for advice
  • Bonus: A tip that Vanessa has never mentioned before when people ask if you know someone…

Books Captivate: The Science of Succeeding with People Captivate The science of succeeding with people               Other books mentioned:

  • Howard’s End, by E.M. Forster. One of the great works of English literature (so I’m told) with a great motif: “Only connect!”

Other Tools & Resources:

  • Check out Vanessa’s site Science of People for all kind of goodies on improving your social interactions.

The wine

As mentioned, Vanessa had to take a rain check on the wine because she has a newborn that she’s feeding, but in her honor, I got to enjoy something from one of her favorite Oregon wineries, Argyle (it’s the 2013 Reserve Pinot Noir). It’s got a bit of fruit and bit of earth, but not whelming, and it’s got more body than a lot of Willamette pinots. Argyle Pinot Noir 2013    bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Vanessa:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more). listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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032 Michael Zipursky on the Elite Consulting Mind

Michael Zipursky

Michael Zipursky didn’t mean to start consulting with giant Japanese corporations in his early 20s. It just happened. Hear how he pulled it off, and how he started multiple businesses, including his most recent venture helping consultants learn from his mistakes (this should sound familiar to long time listeners). Plus, learn to improve your results by improving your mindset, from the author The Elite Consulting Mind. In this episode, learn how:

  • Michael set himself up for success in his early 20s before he got on a plane for  Japan. (He found a niche for helping Japanese companies market to the North American market.)
  • Why he’s fascinated with languages and cultures.
  • Michael learned how to sell, sometimes the hard way.
    • Why people try to rush sales before relationships, and what to do instead (and a time Michael made a bad mistake in this area).
    • How many consultants make the opposite mistake, and never try to actually sell anything. (“No one buys consulting, unless someone makes an offer.”)
    • No one wants to buy what we’ve created. They want to buy a solution to their problem.
    • The only way to solve the problem is to understand it by asking questions.
    • When you understand the problem, you can charge a lot more.
  • What’s holding people back? Usually fear. Fear of making a mistake, the unknown, and being rejected.
    • The Catch-22 is that confidence and competence come from taking action, while people don’t take action because they’re afraid.
    • Taking action gives you the only feedback that really matters– from the market.
  • When we do “take action”, a lot of the things that make you feel productive, because you’re spending time on them, are not actually moving your business forward. Drop those things, and spend more time on the smaller fraction of things that actually create lots of value. We often do things that are easy or comfortable, rather than the things that are hard and actually productive. For example, spend time to meet with people, or, at a minimum pick up the phone and have a two way conversation. Don’t fall into the trap of sending the quick email.
    • Think you don’t have time? Follow the 80/20 rule. Document your process and pinpoint where you are really required. Offload repeated tasks (and your ego).
    • What you can’t outsource— marketing! You have to define your audience and your message.
  • Bonus tip: If you really want to build a thriving practice, stay in touch and make introductions when you *don’t* have the solution they need right now. This is a great way to build trust.

Books

EliteConsultingMindCoverThe Elite Consulting Mind: 16 Proven Mindsets to Attract More Clients, Increase Your Income and Achieve Meaningful Success, by Michael Zipursky.

 

Other books mentioned:

Other Tools:

 

The wine

We were on a Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir kick for this discussion, without any coordination. Michael was drinking some Patz & Hall 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir (which is amazing, if you like Pinot like I do). I had the also delicious but less amazing (but much more affordable) Sean Minor 2014 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir.

Patz and Hall

Sean Minor

 

 

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Michael:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more).

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


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031: Rusty Shelton on Authority Marketing and Writing Books

Rusty Shelton

Rusty Shelton has written 2 books, and his latest one, Authority Marketing: How to Leverage the 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant, is about using books to help spread your message and grow your business.

I sat down with Rusty in his Hill Country office to talk about media, authority, marketing, and more. In this interview, learn…

  • How Rusty got into the publishing world, and how he got started on his first book.
  • The “why?” behind writing a book– it’s not about getting rich from selling a lot of copies. (“The worst way to make money from a book is buy selling it.”)
  • Why every company is a media company.
  • Why books are different than other forms of media, and why writing one is different for your brand than other forms of content.
  • 3 types of media channels
    • Rented media (Facebook, etc)
    • Earned media (PR, speaking, referrals, etc)
    • Owned media (this is the new channel that didn’t exist for most of human history, at least not a global scale)
  • 3 types of audiences– the stadium analogy
    • your customer and partners
    • people who have a seat in the stadium, but haven’t bought yet.
    • outside the stadium
  • The big marketing mistake companies make with the stadium
  • How to set up compelling Lead Magnets.
  • How to convert earned media to owned media.
  • Content strategy as your personal newspaper
    • Don’t fill it with ads or op-eds
    • Think like the media, not a marketer– focus on the needs of the audience
  • Why personal brands can be more powerful than big corporate brands
  • How to use visuals to promote your personal brand
  • How your personal brand is important, even for referral-based work
  • 3 ways to publish
    • Traditional publishing with a major publisher, an advance, etc. Takes about a year. Getting harder and harder to get this if you don’t already have a big stadium.
    • Independent– you get the editor, design the cover, etc. You can sell these in bookstores, but there’s more work involved, and you shouldn’t expect to be on a lot of shelves.
    • Assisted self publishing, or hybrid (like Greenleaf Books, Advantage | Forbes Books)
  • Doesn’t matter as much as it used to, but, the book has to be good, and it can’t look like it was “self-published”.
    • You need to have an audio book if you’re trying to reach business audiences. (Joel Block here in Austin help us do our reading, which took 9 hours for 35,000 words, and yielded an 8 hour audio book.)
  • Do an online brand audit– type your name into Google. Are you there? Do the results line up with what you want your prospects to see?
  • What’s holding me back from writing a book?
    • How to “eat the elephant”, and why you don’t need to write a 100,000 words.
  • Sales for Nerds the book– it’s coming. What have I done?!?!?! What would you like to see covered in the book? Let me know on Twitter

Books

Authority Marketing Book CoverAuthority Marketing: How to Leverage the 7 Pillars of Thought Leadership to Make Competition Irrelevant

And Rusty’s previous book:

Mastering the New Media Landscape: Embrace the Micromedia Mindset

The wine

Monte Real RiojaMonte Real Rioja 2009 from Spain. Delicious, a bit of BBQ and smoke. Feels right at home in the Texas summer.

 

 

bottle_0002_oban-14yo

Where to find Rusty:

Where you can find Reuben: @Sales4Nerds, @Mimiran, Mimiran.com (the easy CRM for people who are awesome at serving clients but would love some help getting more).

listen-on-apple-podcasts-sales-for-nerds

You can also  listen on Overcast, or Subscribe on AndroidPlayer.fm.


Get alerted when there are new episodes (1x/month):